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Much ado about nothing[edit]

This article was afflicted by the Typhus Revert Virus (TRV) that is transmitted by User:Typhoon. He typically reverts everything I write on articles he monitors. I already wrote the original segment, but found some of my own wording not very good, hence attempted to improve it. One of the reasons was that the two versions (motte and bailey) are described in changing terms and it was not all that clear what was bailey and which one is the motte. Also the term "defensible" or "defendable" shows up in different contexts that made it less clear. I'm welcoming actual improvements, but alas the TRV doesn't care about such things and acts on malicious principle, and lesser versions are then meddled with that alas don't fix the issues. — Aneris ✻ {talk/ideas} 15:58, 18 December 2015 (UTC)

Or maybe it was reverted because your wording got even more incomprehensible AND you listed the postmodermism example twice (it's already explained in the origins section, do you even read before you edit?).Typhoon (talk) 16:29, 18 December 2015 (UTC)
"defensible" and "defendable" are both easily understood words with clear definitions (I.E, Something able to be defended/protected/argued in favour of). Also, Doctrine is a stupid word to use, especially as "Motte and Bailey Doctrine". It sounds like a vague document used as a gotcha for conspiracy theorists.Keter (talk) 16:39, 18 December 2015 (UTC)
Well, Slymepitters ARE conspiracy theorist, so you shouldn't be surprised. Also,"Typhus Revert Virus"? Really? Funny that just before Aneris came here crying I was reading about how Slymepitters have a obsessive tendency to label people they hate with crude nicknames. Will Aneris proceed to photoshops and stalking? Typhoon (talk) 16:44, 18 December 2015 (UTC)
It was coined as "doctrine" by Nickolas Shakel, hence it's named here as "doctrine" and that is a thingWikipedia, wheter you like it or not. Here's the adjective wording used for the Bailey version (desirable, profound, indefensible) versus the Motte version (trivial) at first. Later it doesn't use one of the established terms, but uses "difficult" and desired. It is not really profound, but "profound", which is connected to the statement of counter-intuitive-yet-somehow-true, which is non-apparent in this version. Then there is indefensible, defendable, defended, but it says that the "indefensible" version is actualy not defended, thanks to the swapping. You can safely ignore Typhus, scorched earth and warfare fanatic, and it's of course rich that he accuses me when he follows me around and undos stuff I write. — Aneris ✻ {talk/ideas} 17:10, 18 December 2015 (UTC)

Motte and bailey[edit]

What useful context? It's incoherent Aneris-waffling. The term is not in currency outside a single blog. What is this useful for? - David Gerard (talk) 01:50, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

[1] Someone's gotta make a neologism stick, and this is a useful one. [2] It very effectively explains what IDers do, as an example. Fuzzy "Cat" Potato, Jr. (talk/stalk) 05:14, 21 December 2015 (UTC)
WTF. No, we do not need to "make a neologism stick". You clearly haven't read the actual content. It's terrible and incoherent. The neologism is awful too, as evidenced that nobody on the Internet actually uses it except Scott and fans. Its actual purpose is as a word to flag oneself as a member of the post-LessWrong totally-not-neoreactionary subculture - David Gerard (talk) 09:21, 21 December 2015 (UTC)
I don't think it's "terrible and incoherent". Carpetsmoker (talk) 11:05, 21 December 2015 (UTC)
It's not terrible, and the only parts that make the neologism seem stupid is Aneris' insistence about adding "Doctrine" and making it read like something you could add next to "Elders and the Protocols of Zion" on a bookshelf by title. It's simply people making a strong claim when skeptics/critics aren't looking and caving in with "Well when I say X I don't mean it like that..." while they ask questions to make them go away faster.Keter (talk) 13:55, 21 December 2015 (UTC)
"You clearly haven't read the actual content." 10,000.00% correct. αδελφός ΓυζζγςατΡοτατο (talk/stalk) 17:15, 21 December 2015 (UTC)
Where's that “insistence about adding "Doctrine"” other than my one talk page explanation? It's supposedly where the postmodernist examples and the Alan Sokal quotation are: nowhere. As a reminder, people here tend to live in denial that certain examples and cases go mysteriously missing. Let's point it out again. Here we have yet another case → cue denialist telling me that it was once again nothing or just an isolated case. ~ Aneris 02:55, 4 January 2016 (UTC)
If 'motte-and-bailey' is a snarl word, is 'deepity' now a snarl word too? The two terms aren't very different from each other. Moreover, most snarl/purr words get that way because of an underlying ambiguity. I find it ironic that a term that points out ambiguity is itself labeled as such.--Turkeypotpie (talk) 03:51, 15 August 2016 (UTC)
The word police here often declares terms as snarl, to discourage their use. They do this to concepts they perceive as a threat to their own postmodernist ideology. At first such information is ignored and they hope nobody adds it. When someone did, they try to delete it, and for that they'll often cripple articles so that other RW support delete attempts. If all fails, they'll prefer a bad article corpse. In this case, the article once had a good description, additional substantiation from Sokal, and even the coiner of the term had added to it. It also used to be its own article. ~ Aneris 14:39, 15 August 2016 (UTC)

This whole page is a clusterfuck of muddled concepts & faulty definitions. What bait-and-switchWikipedia actually means is a dubious (often fraudulent) sales technique where consumers are lured in by a deal that's too good to be true & then stuck with an inferior product, service or price instead. It's not a "logical fallacy", just a scam. As for why Scientologists and Freemasons maintain secrecy around their organisations, the reasons are complicated & attributing them to "bait-and-switch" is a bizarre oversimplification. WēāŝēīōīďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 18:57, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

I would tend to agree with Weaseloid. Perhaps Bait-and-Switch should be one page specific to the retail scam, and Motte and Bailey should be a separate page. Bongolian (talk) 19:18, 21 December 2015 (UTC)
It was deleted once already, with the alternative being a redirect here - David Gerard (talk) 21:25, 21 December 2015 (UTC)
Actually, the sales one probably applies to Scientology, although their internal reason is "mystery sandwich" - David Gerard (talk) 21:07, 21 December 2015 (UTC)
@Weaseloid: Can't a sales tactic also be a logical fallacy? FᴜᴢᴢʏCᴀᴛPᴏᴛᴀᴛᴏ, Esϙᴜɪʀᴇ (talk/stalk) 21:26, 21 December 2015 (UTC)
Possibly, but it's really rhetoric using a fallacy - David Gerard (talk) 23:04, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

If you're gonna claim something is "motte and bailey", you really need to provide someone actually calling it "motte and bailey" per se. (And not someone on SSC.) None of the listed examples have this, so I've made them a separate section - David Gerard (talk) 14:50, 18 February 2016 (UTC)


This is still as much of a mess as it was when discussed back in February, and needs sorting out. The way it defines bait-and-switch is inaccurate and the muddling of multiple subjects (milk before meat, motte and bailey) is unhelpful.

I suggest restoring the article to its original location at "milk before meat" and keeping its focus on religion. Comparisons with bait-and-switch are sometimes made, especially by ex-Mormons, and the article should explore this. But I think it's an imperfect analogy as the practice is usually more about cultivating a sense of mystery and awe, maintaining an internal hierarchy, and facilitating brainwashing programmes than it is about "switching" one thing for another.

As for "motte and bailey" doctrine, I don't think it should sit within the same article as "milk before meat", and don't much care what else happens to it. If it's not a notable subject in its own right it can be deleted. The hypothetical examples (mostly straw) should be deleted either way. WěǎšěǐǒǐďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 22:19, 10 May 2016 (UTC)

+1 - David Gerard (talk) 07:13, 11 May 2016 (UTC)
-1. 32℉uzzy; 0℃atPotato (talk/stalk) 14:07, 11 May 2016 (UTC)
-∞--Kugelschreiber (talk) (mail) (block) 14:42, 11 May 2016 (UTC) 14:42, 11 May 2016 (UTC)
\nabla^2 V = \frac{1}{r^2} \frac{\partial}{\partial r} \left(r^2 \frac{\partial V}{\partial r} \right) + \frac{1}{r^2 sin~\theta} \frac{\partial}{\partial \theta} \left( sin~\theta \frac{\partial V}{\partial \theta} \right) + \frac{1}{r^2 sin^2~\theta} \frac{\partial^2 V}{\partial \phi^2} = 0--JorisEnter (talk) 14:49, 11 May 2016 (UTC)
Holy shit, what is that? I suck ass' ass at math.--Kugelschreiber (talk) (mail) (block) 14:59, 11 May 2016 (UTC) 14:59, 11 May 2016 (UTC)
It's Laplace's equationWikipedia in spherical coordinates.--JorisEnter (talk) 15:01, 11 May 2016 (UTC)

Another example[edit]

The following example was added:

  • Equally, an atheist will often make affirmative and definitive declarations such as "there is no god", or "god is impossible" (bailey), but under pressure will retreat to the position that atheism is just a simple, passive lack of belief in a god (motte), in order to avoid any perceived burden of proof.

This was then repeatedly reverted by GrammarCommie whose only explanation was 'I'm pretty sure the Abrahamic God is horseshit'.

I fail to see how our personal views are relevant to whether or not the edit was a valid example. I am an atheist, but even if theism IS horseshit, the example given was a valid one of the motte and bailey fallacy.

And out of interest, who even mentioned the Abrahamic god? Is that not in itself a perfect description of motte and bailey arguing? You interpreted my example as a threat to atheism as a whole, but you retreated to a rather petulant attack of Abrahamic religion, which for the record was never being promoted. Come on. Do better. Have I got the wrong site for considered and rational discussion?

This page shouldn't about personal beliefs. Honestly, if you can't bear to accept that other people who hold your views may also be guilty of rational fallacies, then you're probably too invested and... not that rational after all. — Unsigned, by: Star Gazer / talk / contribs @GrammarCommie

Edit - Again, an attempt to undo another example, and yet no one so far has been able to explain why the example isn't valid. People are just getting defensive. Don't feel threatened, the example might not apply to you. If it isn't an example, please tell me why not rather than trying to shut it down. Be an adult. @Spud — Unsigned, by: Star Gazer / talk / contribs

What do you mean another example? Aren't you just putting back the same thing that you put on the page before that got removed?
And that's the most you're going to get out of me for the next 24 hours. It's night time where I am. I've had a busy weekend. I'm too tired. Spud (talk) 11:53, 20 May 2018 (UTC)
It was another example for the main Bait and Switch page, in addition to the others that have been permitted. I note you still seem unable to explain why it has been removed. The first removal was because "Abrahamic religion is horseshit" (as if the example was doubting that), and your removal seems to be because '""Well it was removed before, so...". Come on. Star Gazer (talk) 12:02, 20 May 2018 (UTC) @Spud
It's not good form, @Star Gazer to push your edit while someone (@Spud) objecting to it has indicated that they would shortly return to the discussion. From my perspective, your example is different from the others insofar as the other examples do not change the basic character of the person when then motte is changed to the bailey, but for your example it does, changing the atheist into the (unspoken) agnostic. Let's hear what Spud has to say, then perhaps we can agree whether to include your change. Bongolian (talk) 19:25, 20 May 2018 (UTC)
I'm sorry @Bongolian? Push my edit? He asked me a direct question in his last message, so I gave him a direct response. Come on, people! (As an aside, while we're talking of good form, I'd recommend you avoid blocking people while telling them to go to the Talk page when they had already done so days earlier). Thank you for your views though - we're getting somewhere. I need to clarify your perspective: So you think that "a passive lack of belief" in a god is the position of an unspoken agnostic rather than an atheist? I and most atheists would disagree with you - even the Atheist page here defines it as "the absence of belief in the existence of gods". Let's find out from (@Spud) what he thinks atheism is, as you seem to seek his approval. Star Gazer (talk) 20:09, 20 May 2018 (UTC)
That sounds reasonable. I wouldn't make too big a deal of the block: you were edit warring and the block was only for 1 hour to get your attention. I unblocked you before the hour was up. Bongolian (talk) 01:24, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
@Star Gazer, having read the article, I think your atheist example fits in fine. I will not remove it from the page again. That is not to say, however, that other users will necessarily allow it to stay.
A few words of advice. Do not mistake silence for approval. When somebody tells you to "take it to the talk page", that means there has to be some discussion before you go ahead and make the changes you want to make. Discussion requires at least two participants. And to be a successful wiki editor, you have to be pretty thick skinned. People will sometimes rollback and undo your edits without comment. People will sometimes ignore your talk page comments. Don't take it personally and choose your battles carefully. Some small hills are not worth dying on. Spud (talk) 12:28, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
this probably could all have been avoided if the people taking the time to revert took the time to justify their reverts at the same time. i also find it odd that during an edit war, with two people reverting each other, the chap who took that time to justify their edits gets blocked while the other didnt. AMassiveGay (talk) 12:45, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
@Spud @AMassiveGay Thank you for both of your comments. Spud, I appreciate your point, but the need for consensus (when some people refuse to use a Talk page) is in effect a way of preventing edits; (If you say you can only make an edit if we discuss and reach a consensus, then you can prevent edits you don't like by refusing to discuss it). Shouldn't rolling back edits without justification be seen in the same way as making edits without justification? If one user has to use the Talk page, then why doesn't everyone? I agree with AMassiveGay; it doesn't seem right that some users can make or undo changes unilaterally, while others are expected to beg for consensus. As I currently cannot lock a page or reprimand a sysop, this will happen again and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Is that about right? Star Gazer (talk) 13:17, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
Not quite. You need to get other users to discuss the changes you want to make with you. A consensus can still be reached without the user who undid your edits in the first place being involved. Spud (talk) 14:40, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
Atheists don't have to (and technically cannot) prove that deities do not exist, the burden of proof in that instance is on the group claiming that such creatures do in fact exist. All of that being said, God (with the big G) is a logical impossibility. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 15:44, 21 May 2018 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I think that GrammarCommie has gotten to the real problem with the edit. 1) The bailey needs to be an unappealing falsehood. 2) The bailey in Star Gazer's edit was "there is no god" or "god is impossible" 3) These are arguably unfalsifiable claims and furthermore 4) the burden of proof is not on the atheist because extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence (Russell's Teapot). Bongolian (talk) 16:25, 21 May 2018 (UTC)

@GrammarCommie and @Bongolian Thank you for finally engaging, and kudos to @AMassiveGay for encouraging you. It shouldn't have been that hard. But I now see which part offended you: Neither of you feel that making a positive claim (such as 'God is a logical impossibility') creates MORE of a perceived burden of proof, than simply denying someone else's belief. I would disagree, because surely you are making a new positive statement as opposed to denying someone else's statement. To check for the logic (and sidestep bias or emotion), how about we swap out the examples to something we're less invested in? "I don't believe in flying rabbits", and "I do believe that flying rabbits are logically impossible." Do either of those statements carry a greater perceived burden of proof? Is one easier to defend than the other? Which would be the motte?
Bongolian, I'm not sure that the bailey actually needs to be an unappealing falsehood - that's bait and switch, not necessarily motte and bailey. The description here for M&B describes a bailey as "a hard-to-defend and more controversial statement". Again, isn't the statement 'God is logically impossible' distinct from and more controversial than 'I don't believe in a god'? Even if I agree with both, I know which is easier to defend.
But hey chaps, if it would keep you happy, how about I remove the reference to a perceived burden of proof? Ultimately, I want you to look at this logically without invoking personal beliefs (which I may happen to share), and perhaps one day even dare to accept that someone with our beliefs can still commit logical fallacies, but I don't want to rock the boat. Baby steps. So how about An atheist might make affirmative and definitive declarations such as "God is impossible" (bailey), but under pressure retreat to the easier-to-defend position that atheism is just a passive lack of belief in a god (motte). Any objections? Star Gazer (talk) 19:31, 21 May 2018 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────You aren't listening, the monotheistic God of the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) literally can not exist. This isn't a personal view but the result of an entire field of academics studying the matter in depth. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 19:58, 21 May 2018 (UTC)

@GrammarCommie Crumbs, did you read it? I even tried to talk to you about flying rabbits in the hopes you could step away from any emotional attachment to the subject matter.
Listen up - let's say you're right, it's logically impossible that God exists. We're not debating that at the moment. Focus. All you have to work out is whether that positive statement (or ANY positive statement) is easier or harder to defend, more or less controversial, requires more of less proof (or academic research), than saying you just lack a belief in a God (or denying anyone else's statement)? You can see that it's a different claim can't you? Can anyone else help us out here? This is kind of frustrating. Star Gazer (talk) 20:40, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
Can I also just point out that you've accidentally supported what I was saying: You've provided links, academic research ('evidence' or proof if you will) of the statement 'God is logically impossible' - that's because it's a positive statement, and you have tacitly and reasonably accepted a burden of proof. Nothing wrong with that; it's good debating. But consider - would you need to do that if you were only arguing the 'I lack a belief in god' statement? What academic research or links would you need to convince me that you just lack a belief? You wouldn't - we call that sort of statement of belief 'philosophically incorrigible' - which is why out of those two arguments, one is the motte, and one is the bailey. Right? Star Gazer (talk) 12:20, 22 May 2018 (UTC)
Come on folks, don't bury your heads in the sand. What do you think of my amended version? No mention of a scary burden of proof for anyone to worry about. @GrammarCommie @Bongolian @Spud
An atheist might make affirmative and definitive declarations such as "God is impossible" (bailey), but under pressure retreat to the easier-to-defend position that atheism is just a passive lack of belief in a god (motte). Star Gazer (talk) 16:34, 23 May 2018 (UTC)
It's fine by me. If you put it on the page, I won't take it away. But that's no guarantee that it will stay on the page for very long. Spud (talk) 16:55, 23 May 2018 (UTC)
It's fine to add it. Bongolian (talk) 17:20, 23 May 2018 (UTC)
I cede this argument to you @Star Gazer. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 17:23, 23 May 2018 (UTC)